For most of us, meals usually represents sustenance and sometimes gastronomic pleasure, having said that, some among us see and value food stuff as a reservoir of details that retains up a mirror to the past as a narrator of background.
For a area rich in historical past like Anatolia, this particular route can provide very important insights into what this historic land has witnessed in excess of the hundreds of years. This strategy has been picked up in Turkish academia, with scholars diving deep in to get a flavor of the previous.
“By tracing the evolution of specific food items and dishes, we can improved understand the political, diplomatic and social histories of distinctive locations,” mentioned Ceren Bozkurt, a chef, meals researcher and graduate university student at the Hacettepe University in Turkey’s funds Ankara.
“For occasion, the fat and substances of baked bread can notify us about the economic problems in the course of different durations of the Ottoman period,” she claimed.
As the empire’s financial conditions deteriorated, so did the quantity, top quality and wide range of the bread becoming consumed, she discussed.
The Ottomans effectively blended food stuff from Central Asia, Anatolia, the Middle East, the Balkans and the Byzantines to produce a person of the most scrumptious and diversified cuisines in the earth, she included.
“It did not acquire them extensive to integrate and grasp new ingredients this sort of as tomatoes, potatoes and corn, which originated in the Americas,” Bozkurt mentioned.
“This also displays just how properly connected the Ottomans had been to international commerce and trade routes.”
An additional component of cuisine to which Ottomans connected huge relevance was the presentation, she continued.
“How dishes were offered at royal receptions, especially for foreign envoys, was a way for the Ottomans to convey a perception of them selves to the environment,” reported Bozkurt.
“There were also more subliminal messaging going on via these foods the much more variety on display was a marker of the empire’s prosperity and superiority of the sultan.”
The sort, good quality and quantity of foods laid out for foreign envoys were specifically linked to their countries’ relations with the Ottoman Empire, she additional.
As an instance, Bozkurt cited a memoir of Cornelis de Schepper, a Dutch diplomat who arrived to Istanbul in 1533 as section of the Habsburg Emperor Ferdinand I’s peace mission to the Ottoman Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent.
“The mission was attributed considerably relevance and it sooner or later led to a peace treaty in between the Habsburgs and Ottomans. Schepper himself was also held in superior esteem by the Ottomans,” she claimed.
“He mentioned a big wide variety of dishes at his reception, like pilaf with lemon, pomegranate and cold, marinated quail meat, desserts these types of as rose marmalade, and sherbet for drinks.”
Likewise, Sir Edward Barton, an envoy of Queen Elizabeth I, with whom the Ottomans had cordial relations, reported more than 100 varieties of dishes, mostly stews and grilled delicacies, at a palace reception he attended all through the reign of Sultan Mehmet III, Bozkurt added.
“All this goes to demonstrate that a nearer look at the history of the meals eaten in Anatolia over the ages, which has mostly not been provided the attention it warrants, can definitely help us get a a great deal clearer and in-depth strategy of Ottoman and Turkish record,” she concluded.